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Male bias gone, Hindu couples prefer to adopt girls: Govt data

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NEW DELHI: The traditional longing to adopt a male child among issueless couples under

Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act

(HAMA) for a variety of reasons, including performance of last rites of parents, is undergoing an epic change as the number of adoptions in the last two years across India show a remarkable tilt of preference to adopt a

girl child

, and most surprisingly Punjab is leading the trend.

The statistics presented by the Union govt through additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati amply reflected the bucking of the trend which is as old as the vedic ages. While 10 states did not furnish data relating to adoptions under HAMA as directed by the SC on November 20 last year, the ASG presented the data put on record by 11 states which recorded a total of 15,486 adoptions in the period 2021-2023.
Of the total adoptions recorded under HAMA, adoptive parents preferred to take home 9,474 girls as against adopting 6,012 boys. However, the preferred age of adopted children remained below six years of age, irrespective of their gender. The

Central Adoption Resource Agency

(CARA) tabulation indicates that 69.4% of registered prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) opt for children in the age group of 0 to 2 years; 10.3% in the age group of 2 to 4 years; and 14.8% in the age group of 4 to 6 years.
Punjab and Chandigarh have emerged as leaders in India’s march towards

gender equality

, which from data appear to be accentuated in adoptions. Of a total 7,496 adoptions registered under HAMA in the state, 4,966 were girls and 2,530 were boys. In Union Territory of Chandigarh, of a total of 167 children adopted, 114 were girls.

Himachal Pradesh couples adopted 2,107 children (1,278 girls); Tamil Nadu 1,671 (985 girls); Delhi 1,056 (558 girls); Uttarakhand 685 (472 girls); Andhra Pradesh 1,415 (835 girls);

Odisha

291 (165 girls); and, U (66 girls). While Telangana’s Hindu couples preferred adopting a male child (total 242, of which 48 were girls), in West Bengal couples reached the verge of bucking the trend (total 228, of which 112 were girls).
However, Union govt, which compiled the data submitted by the states, placed the information with a caveat. “While some parents obtain

adoption

deed (under HAMA), which is a legal document formalising adoption, maximum do not choose to register the adoption document,” it said.
“Unlike some other adoption systems, HAMA does not impose a mandatory registration process, nor is there a centralised authoring overseeing or controlling these adoptions… Since there is no restriction on relations, adoptions amongst known Hindus is a fact and the variability in adherence to legal formalities reflect on the informal nature of HAMA adoption,” the Centre said.
CARA had informed court that as of Oct 2023, as many as 2,146 children were available for adoption as against 30,669 PAPs registered.

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